About 155 miles (250 km) of coral reefs edge the coast of this region. More than a dozen coral reefs protect a marine environment that, because its remote location, has remained untouched; it is a protected area for the endangered manatee and is a tarpon spawning ground. The coral reefs are spectacular. You will see dolphins, sea turtles, lobsters, crabs, octopus, cuttlefish, nurse sharks, remoras, eels, stingrays, electric rays, manta rays, and a great variety of reef fish. There is also a great variety of coral, with many colors, shapes and sizes.
The Mangroves and the Coral are inter-dependent. The reefs depend upon the mangroves for survival. Mangroves trap sediment and help maintain the clarity of the water, which enables the coral reefs to grow. The coral reefs then protect the mangroves by protecting them from large waves.
The sea grasses growing in the calm waters between the mangroves and the coral reefs help maintain the mangrove ecosystem by recycling nutrients,and keeping sediment from drifting away.
Coral reefs prosper in tropical seas when exactly the right conditions exist - warm, clear, shallow, sea water.
In Bocas del Toro, reefs exist on all the islands' coasts, including numerous shallow reefs that make navigation difficult.
There are two types of reefs here - barrier reef, on the coast exposed to the open sea, and lagoon reef, inside Admiral Bay and the Chiriquí Lagoon. The most common corals are lettuce, finger, brain, elkhorn, fire, gorgonia and flower corals.
The protected reefs are in very good condition, and are one of the major attractions for tourists in the area. One popular destination for divers and snorkelers Hospital Point. Only five minutes by boat from Bocas, the water is warm and clear and it is possible to see many different examples of coral such as brain and elk. Reefs are, of course, much more that coral, because the coral itself hides many creatures like sponges, fishes, crabs, lobsters, shrimps.
Bocas del Toro Ecosystems